META is a research project at the IEHHS. The research group is funded with 2.1 million euros by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF). META runs from April 2018 to March 2024. The project is led by Prof. Dr. Verina Wild.


META is an acronym for: "mHealth: Ethical, Legal, Social aspects in the technological age". In the project, the interdisciplinary and international team is investigating ethical, legal and social aspects of mobile health technologies (mHealth). These include apps, wearables, sensors and other digital technologies. They are increasingly becoming an essential part of promoting health and well-being as well as prevention and disease management.


The project investigates the chances, opportunities, challenges and risks of mHealth as well as other aspects of digital transformation in healthcare on an individual, societal and global level.

In our inquiry, we build on and integrate research from different academic disciplines: Philosophy, Applied Ethics, Sociology, STS, Gender Studies, Law, Medicine, Public Health. As the META team, we discuss our findings from a broader, interdisciplinary perspective. We conduct empirical, conceptual, and normative research in focused individual projects. We also work on joint projects across subprojects.  


The META team developed a user-friendly bilingual website "about mHealth" for a wide range of audiences, including everyone interested in English/German debates about mHealth, policymakers, researchers, technology developers and those in the private sector. 

The project results are disseminated in academic publications and presentations (see detailed list).



Subprojects "Ethics"

In these subprojects we investigate ethical aspects of mobile health technologies. We examine issues of social justice, global justice, bias and discrimination, autonomy/consent, privacy, individual well-being, common good and responsibility. An overarching goal of the project is to expand public health ethics as a perspective of applied ethics to emerging technologies.


Example publications:

  1. Sauerborn Ela, Eisenhut Katharina, Ganguli-Mitra A, Wild Verina (2021). Digitally supported public health interventions through the lens of structural injustice: The case of mobile apps responding to violence against women and girls Bioethics 36 (1): 71-76.
  2. Herzog L*, Kellmeyer P*, Wild Verina* (*equal contribution) (2021). Digital behavioral technology, vulnerability and justice: towards an integrated approach. Review of Social Economy. Jun 30;0(0):1–22.
  3. Hendl T, Chung R, Wild V (2020): Pandemic Surveillance and Racialized Subpopulations: Mitigating Vulnerabilities in COVID-19 Apps. In: Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.

  4. Nijsingh N, Van Bergen A, Wild V (2020): Applying a precautionary approach to mobile contact tracing for Covid-19: the value of reversibility. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. 4/2020.

  5. Ranisch Robert, Nijsingh Niels, Ballantyne Angela, van Bergen Anne, Buyx Alena, Friedrich Orsolya, Hendl Tereza, Marckmann Georg, Munthe Christian, Wild Verina. Digital contact tracing and exposure notification: ethical guidance for trustworthy pandemic management. Ethics and Information Technology 2021;23:285-294

  6. Mielck A, Wild V (2021): Gesundheitliche Ungleichheit – Auf dem Weg von Daten zu Taten. Fragen und Empfehlungen aus Sozial-Epidemiologie und Public-Health-Ethik. Weinheim: Beltz/Juventa.


Subprojects "Socio-empirical Research"

In these subprojects, we conduct qualitative and quantitative empirical studies:

  • Qualitative Study on open-source/user-led mHealth innovation in the Context of Type 1 Diabetes (Bianca Jansky). 
  • Qualitative Study on Norms and Values of Stakeholders in the Context of commercial mHealth development (Bianca Jansky and Verina Wild).
  • Ömer Akif is conducting a survey study about mHealth use in Diabetology and mental health. 
  • Nicole Peter conducted an interview study about mHealth stakeholders and their opinions on future and current chances and risks of mHealth. 
  • Katharina Eisenhut, Ela Sauerborn and Verina Wild have compiled a systematic overview of apps against violence against women.


Example publications:

  1. Jansky, B., Langstrup, H. Device activism and material participation in healthcare: retracing forms of engagement in the #WeAreNotWaiting movement for open-source closed-loop systems in type 1 diabetes self-careBioSocieties (2022).
  2. Eisenhut K*, Sauerborn E*, Garcia Moreno C, Wild V (2020) (*equal contribution): Mobile applications addressing violence against women: A systematic review.BMJ Global Health. 1. April 2020;5(4):e001954.


Subproject "Legal Aspects"

We have compiled legal aspects of mHealth on our "about mHealth" website. Victoria Seeliger has contributed the legal perspective to the project. A publication on app quality has been published:

  1. Seeliger V (2022): Qualitätskriterien für Gesundheits-Apps – Eine Analyse der bisherigen Rechtslage. Gesundheit und Pflege, 2022, Heft 3, S.91-97.


Subproject "Joint Projects"

An important part of our work is the exchange across subprojects. We benefit greatly from the fruitful exchange between the disciplines involved (bioethics, public health ethics, philosophy, sociology, STS, gender studies, law, public health, medicine). This results in overarching insights that we are currently elaborating in joint publications.


Example publications:

  1. Hendl T, Jansky B, Wild V (2020): Why mHealth needs a feminist perspective, in: Loh J, Coeckelberg M (Eds.): The Anthology of Feminist Philosophy of Technology. Stuttgart: Metzler, pp 77-103.
  2. Wild V (2019): Digitalisierte Gesundheit: Eine ethische Reflexion. In: Dockweiler C, Fischer F (Hrsg.): ePublic Health. Bern: Hogrefe, pp 43 - 55
  3. The META-research group (Wild V., Akgül S., Eisenhut K., Hendl T., Jansky B., Machleid F., Nijsingh N., Peter N., and E. Sauerborn). 2019. “Ethical, legal and social aspects of mHealth technologies: Navigating the Field.” In: Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (Eds.): THE FUTURES OF eHEALTH. Social, legal and ethical challenges. 


Subproject "New Methodologies for studying mHealth"

In this subproject, we focus on developing or adopting methodologies for studying the phenomenon mHealth

  • Eisenhut K*, Sauerborn E*, Garcia Moreno C, Wild V (2020) have developed a methodological approach for a systematic App review
  • Bianca Jansky and Ann Kristin Augst organize a workshop on ethnographic methods for medical settings with a panel on digital healthcare.